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Richard Bennett :: Chapter 8 Come and Dine

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Food for Faith — Chapter 8

Come and Dine


  Break Thou the bread of life,
      dear Lord to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves
      beside the sea:
Beyond the sacred page
      I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee,
      O living Word.

Thou art the bread of life,
      O Lord, to me;
Thy holy Word the truth
      that saveth me:
Give me to eat and live
      with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth,
      for Thou art love.

O send Thy Spirit,
      Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes
      and make me see;
Show me the truth concealed
      within Thy Word,
And in Thy book revealed
      I see the Lord.


             —Mary Ann Lathbury


On the sandy shore of the Lake of Galilee stood the risen Son of God, alone and unnoticed. Maybe it was the morning mist that shrouded His majestic presence from the eyes of the weary disciples. Or perhaps, their spiritual eyes had become clouded in the aftermath of Jesus’ death upon a cruel cross.

Not far from shore the despairing disciples huddled together in a tiny fishing vessel. They had just spent a frustrating night fishing, during which they had caught nothing. As if to add insult to injury, someone asked, Children, have you any food? Then, from the lips of that distant person on the shore, there came a clear all-knowing command: Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.

Awakened from his nightmarish stupor, John responded to the familiar voice and joyfully exclaimed: It is the Lord! With renewed hope, the disciples obeyed their Lord’s directives, and immediately the net was filled with a great catch of fish! Then, in his enthusiasm, Peter plunged into the waves and eagerly swam to his Master (John 21:11 NKJV).

On the shore, none other than the risen Lord of Glory Himself had laid and kindled a fire. When all the disciples were gathered together, Jesus called for fish and soon He prepared and cooked a nourishing meal. To those hungry yet joyful men, Jesus issued His gracious invitation: Come and eat (John 21:12 NKJV).

It is this same gracious invitation that rings down the corridor of two millenniums. Morning by morning, Jesus the Lord stands on the shores of eternity, still inviting us to partake of a heavenly meal that He has carefully prepared. Yes, it is God Himself, Jesus our Lord and Savior, who has meticulously prepared each daily meal for us. It is food for our faith; it is the Word of God; it is the Bible.

In a moment or two, I will invite you to ‘listen in’ as I turn to the Word to engage in my Together Time. I record this personal prayer time only because it could prove to be a practical encouragement and invaluable help to you as you regularly respond to your Master’s gracious invitation to ‘come and eat.’ From two entirely different sources I have been prompted to share a real-life Together Time with you.

First: A friend of mine who kindly read the script of the previous chapters urged me to do this as a fitting conclusion to this book.

Second: From time to time, over a period of many years, I have been privileged to witness how God has blessed people in a special way when I have led different groups and churches in a collective Together Time.

On such occasions, any person present could take part; no questions were to be asked except in silent prayer to the Holy Spirit; and no sermons were to be preached! We commenced each time of fellowship by praying together that the Holy Spirit would be our Teacher. Then in unison we would read aloud the selected Scripture passage. After that, we would return to the beginning of that Scripture passage and together we would again read aloud the first verse. Before proceeding to the next verse, we would have a thirty-second period of silence. During that quiet time, each person would prayerfully meditate upon the verse we had just read to determine if any of the questions which are listed after this chapter could be answered from that verse. Following the silent period of prayer and meditation, each person was free to share with the congregation how the Holy Spirit had applied that verse to his or her heart. This would then be followed with a prayer of response, either by the person who had shared, or by some other member of the congregation.

Incidentally, I believe that this method is the most profitable way to conduct a collective Together Time. At this time, I would also urge the readers who are using this book in a group study, to set aside several further meetings for the purpose of applying the above suggestions. [For further help, questions are provided here. ]

The idea of a collective Together Time was first introduced to me by the late Thomas B. Rees, a British evangelist, at the Young People’s Holiday Conference Centre, where I was converted to Christ. The questions Tom asked for us to answer were a variation of the ones already suggested in the chapter Together Time.

Over the long years since then, many of the meetings I have conducted in this way have been accompanied by an unusual sense of God’s presence and by the Holy Spirit’s speaking to hearts and lives. After such a service at a downtown Baptist church in Victoria, Canada, the pastor remarked, “That was the most blessed and remarkable service I have ever attended during the course of my entire ministry.”

Likewise, after several days of services in a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church for Arabs in the Old City of Jerusalem (during which time I spent some of the days teaching these precepts and the other days conducting collective Together Times), the retired principal of the Canadian Bible College, who was then living in that ancient city, remarked: “We have never been so close to a real spiritual breakthrough here in Jerusalem!”

In church meetings, home fellowships, Bible conferences, and youth fellowships, God has singularly blessed this public, yet at the same time personal, approach to the Word of God.

I would like to mention, however, that as I attempted to write down my personal Together Time, I discovered that it is much more difficult to catch the reality, the glow and the inspiration of my time of personal fellowship with the Lord in print, than it is to experience such a delight privately or even in a public gathering.

To help me record for you the following highlights of my time together with the Lord today, I set myself a few ground rules!

First: I have not let myself select one of my favorite and most familiar passages of the Bible! In my daily Together Times, I am reading Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians.

Second: The following record of today’s portion of Scripture is not intended to be a verse by verse exposition.

Third: To make this account of my Together Time as natural (supernatural) as possible, I will share with you the verses that the Holy Spirit has today made living to my heart.

Fourth: I will share with you how God’s voice was brought into personal focus when I prayerfully meditated upon God’s Word by using some of the questions already suggested.

As I share my meditations with you, you will understand that any Together Time is an intensely personal experience. I am aware that your circumstances today are not the same as mine. I am also aware that my circumstances today are not what they will be in six months’ time. In His great love, God meets us and speaks to us just where we are, not where we have been, nor where we will be, nor where somebody else is, but where we are! When you read the following record you will be facing totally different circumstances from me. Because God will speak to you in relation to your own needs and circumstances, you are personally and daily given your own invitation by the Lord to come and dine.

Surely the Bible is not only God’s living and powerful Word to our hearts, but it is also His personal Word to each of us! For the word of God is living, and powerful… and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV). What could be more personal than that?

In my Bible meditation today, I am reading from the New King James Version. Now, I invite you to listen in as I open my Bible to 2 Corinthians, chapter 1. Please open your own Bible with me.

It is 5:00 a.m.—I have closed my door and opened my Bible to be alone with God.

Some of the circumstances that surround my life today as I come into the presence of God with an open Bible and an open heart are:

  • I am particularly concerned about the constant and increasing pain that Dorothy endures. It has become much more severe in these past weeks.
  • I am also concerned whether or not her health condition should be a determining factor in finalizing plans for our itinerary of ministry this autumn. So often in the past when I have seen Dorothy suffer in most unusual ways because of our long, demanding missionary journeys, I have said to her, “Dorothy, I will never expose you to this kind of situation again.” But then, in one way or another, God has poured out His blessing upon our united ministry, and together we have said, “It has been so gloriously worthwhile!” What about this time, Lord?
  • Weighing heavily upon my heart today is the situation in Kenya, where God has been pleased to bless our ministry in the past. The entire situation in that land is extremely unstable, with inflation running rampant. I wish we could do more for the many nationals who are faithfully serving Christ there.
  • There are family members on both Dorothy’s side and mine who either have been prematurely bereaved or are terminally ill. Because of our complicated and sometimes unpredictable schedules, and because of Dorothy’s chronic and severe physical limitations, we seem so inadequate in being able to let them know in practical terms how much we care for them.

Prayer

Father, this morning I praise You for waking me unusually early. I believe that Your purpose was not only that You desire to speak to my heart in a special way, but also that You desire to bless each person who will later listen in to the time we share together when they hear what You have to say to me through Your Word.

You know, dear Lord, that I do not find it easy to put those people who will later read this record out of my mind in order that I may be conscious only of You. Therefore, in a very special way I pray that You will anoint my heart, my mind and my pencil with transparency, reality and with a real sense of personal intimacy with You.

I affirm again in Your presence that my life is hidden with Christ in God. Thank You for such a wonderful assurance. I also praise You, dear Lord, that, even though the record I am writing with my hands here on earth might be sadly biased by my own personal perspective, in Heaven You are my Great High Priest and will present my prayers and praise before the Father’s throne according to Your perfect knowledge and will. So with glad anticipation I turn to Your Word this morning. Open my eyes this day that I may behold wondrous things in Your Word.

Dear Reader, today, I turn to 2 Corinthians 1 NKJV, and then slowly read aloud through the entire chapter. I do this with a distinct voice and with no prolonged pauses. I invite you to do the same.

When a moment or two ago I read the chapter in this way, I became very conscious of Paul’s exemplary conduct as a servant of Christ. Now it is apparent to me that much of my time with the Lord today will answer the question: Is there in this verse an example to follow?

From my first reading of the entire chapter, already my heart has been inclined by the Holy Spirit to follow Paul’s noble examples. I do want to be a better servant of my Lord. Before I proceed to meditate verse by verse through the chapter, I will tell Him so.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I sincerely want to be able to reflect upon my life of service to You with similar satisfaction that I sense in the testimony of Paul that I have just read. In a thousand ways You have poured out Your blessings in my life and I am sad to acknowledge that all too often it has been a one-way street. My heart grows weary of sincerely expressing my desire to fellowship with You, but then, when You give me opportunity to share the fellowship of Your sufferings, I flinch like a coward. As I am about to meditate upon these verses again, please overshadow me with Your presence and Your power and touch my life afresh in a life-transforming way so that my selfish habit patterns may be permanently and radically changed for Your own dear Name’s sake.

Now, I will return and read the same chapter verse by verse and thought by thought. As I do so, I will continually pray that the Holy Spirit may not let me miss the message that God wants to convey to my heart in answer to my prayer. In this manner, my two-way conversation with God will begin. I also remind myself that as I meditate upon each verse I must be careful not to hurry past any verse that I am already familiar with. Today, God may want to make that verse living to my heart in a new and special way. So I ask: Is there in this passage a fresh thought about God the Father?

Reading

2Co 1:3 NKJV: The Father of mercies, and God of all comfort.

Today, I particularly notice that this statement about the Fatherhood of God is preceded by another reference to God’s Fatherhood found in 2Co 1:2 NKJV. As I looked at my marginal reference, I read that verse 2 could be translated: The God and Father of our Lord

Jesus Christ. Just think of it: the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is also my Father of mercy and comfort. For my comfort, my Father in Heaven has extended His Grace and Peace to me.

Prayer

Father, I bow before You with thanksgiving and praise. I thank You for Your ‘Grace.’ You have extended to my heart that which is eternally Yours—Your ‘Peace!’ Through Your grace—the peace, the tranquillity, the harmony that has forever existed in who You are, are mine today! Hallelujah! By Your Holy Spirit, minister to my ruffled heart, I pray. As I bow in Your holy presence, fill my life with the quietness and the peace of Your own indwelling, I pray.


Reading

2Co 1:4 NKJV: Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

As I meditate upon this testimony of Paul’s, I notice some other words that he used in the context of the ‘comfort’ that he had received from his Heavenly Father. They are: ‘tribulation’, ‘afflicted’, ‘trouble’, ‘sufferings’ and ‘sentence of death.’ The Holy Spirit seems to be drawing my attention to the fact that these experiences are far removed from the usual concept of ‘comfort.’

As I read on, I notice that Paul also testified that all the difficulties of life are permitted by God for one specific purpose: that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. I also observe from verse 4 that the reason God ministered His comfort to Paul was not that he should be comfortable but that he should be a comforter of others. I must pray this one through!

Prayer

Yes Lord, You know the times in my life when I have sincerely wanted to bring comfort and consolation to hurting people. I have so wanted to minister Your comfort to Dorothy as she suffers so constantly and intensely in her body.

All too often, I seem to take so much from her and so seldom do I minister Your grace and peace for her comfort and consolation. Please forgive my selfish ways and fill me afresh with a desire to serve and not be served.

And, as I also think of the millions of hurting people who live in desolate and difficult conditions where hunger and disease and death prevail, I pray that Your grace and peace will be so magnified in my heart and that Your presence will be so evident in my life that it will be used to lift burdens from others and to comfort those people who live in such dreadful conditions.

But even as I pray, Lord Jesus, I understand more clearly how Your comfort attends each difficulty of life no matter how severe, and that it is allowed by Your loving heart that I might not trust in myself but in You.

Now at this very point, the Word of God is becoming penetratingly powerful to me. I realize that even Paul was ministered to by a somber list of difficulties to strip him of self-confidence. Why then, should I complain if, in His love, God chooses to answer my prayer by allowing perplexity and adversity to deal with my pride?

Prayer

Yes, Lord, I want to thank You for Your ministry of love in my life. Though it is difficult to record this prayer for other people to read, I am encouraged that Paul was transparent about his severe trials before those whom he loved. He did not confine his testimony to the good things of life, so from the bottom of my heart today I will praise You for every lonely moment in my service to You, for every heartache You have allowed to come my way, for every time I have been misunderstood, for every foolish and sinful blunder of my life, for every overwhelming circumstance when I failed because I trusted in my own self and not in You. Now, Lord Jesus, in Your Holy Presence, I affirm with Paul that I will not trust in myself but in You.

Lord, only the other day I read Paul’s words: our sufficiency is of God. This morning I affirm by faith that You and You alone are my sufficiency. Dear Lord, in the words of Scripture that are open before me, I praise You—that You have delivered me; and that You do deliver me; and that You will yet deliver me—from myself! Thank You Lord Jesus, for such a great salvation!

Now, Lord, as the Holy Spirit strengthens my heart with Your comfort, I expectantly ask You to use me in practical and loving ways today, to bring Your comfort and help to people I might meet today who need Your love.


Reading

2Co 1:11 NKJV: You also helping together in prayer for us…by many persons.

I wonder what Paul’s ministry would have been like if many faces had not been lifted up to God on his behalf. Likewise, I wonder where I would be today if it were not for my many friends who help together in prayer.

Prayer

Father, I cannot comprehend Your great love to me in that You have laid it upon the heart of so many of Your dear children to pray for Dorothy and me. How can I express my thanks to You for such wondrous love?

Now, I specifically commit some of these friends to God in a time of intercessory prayer. As I do so, I try to pray for them in the light of the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit has been impressing upon my own heart and life, asking that God bring His own comfort (strength) to their hearts and lives as they totally put their trust in Him. *

Reading

2Co 1:15, 17-18 NKJV: I intended to come to you before…do I plan according to the flesh?…our word to you was not yes and no.

I meditate upon this sequence of thought. Paul testified that his only concern to go to Corinth the second time was to minister ‘comfort’ and ‘consolation’ and ‘benefit’ to the saints whom he loved. He did not desire to go there to receive from them; on the contrary, he wanted to give to them. He also testified that he had not made his travel plans lightly. (I notice there is no mention of who would pay his travel expenses and money played no part in his going!) Certainly, personal advantage played no part in his decision to go to Corinth.

Prayer

By Your Spirit, and through Your Word, dear Lord, show me any wrong motive in my heart that would quench the working of Your Holy Spirit when I determine what is your will as to where I should minister this coming autumn. It seems to me Lord, that, even though the Christians at Corinth misconstrued Paul’s motives when he made the unusual decision to change his travel plans, he was persuaded only by the leading of Your Spirit. But, thank You, Lord, that although Paul said yes and then had changed his response to no for his itinerary, the Word he preached was never yes and then no, for in Christ it is always yes, unchanged and eternal. There are no changes in Your Heart, Lord; the Word of God that Paul preached is eternally verified by You. Thank You, Lord, for being this solid rock in my world—in my world where circumstances shift so quickly, where plans must be made and sometimes changed. Lord, I need to know Your plans. Save me from decisions that flow from expediency or opportunism. Let me walk in fellowship with You each day, I pray.

*Please turn to here for further suggestions to help you in intercessory prayer.

Reading

2Co 1:20 NKJV: For all the promises of God in Him [Christ] are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the Glory of God through us.

As I observe that God’s promises are made personal “through us,” I ask: Is there in this passage a promise for me to claim?

Prayer

Through us, Lord? The promises of God—through us! The promises of God in Christ? All the promises of God in Christ, Lord? Yes, Lord, thank You. This morning in Your Holy Presence I want to record my own yes and amen to that, Lord! O God, I cannot conceive of all that You have given me in Christ. Indeed, I cannot imagine how empty my life would be without You, dear Lord. Today, Lord Jesus, I affirm that You are all I need as I face the demands of today with all its opportunities, its testings and its decisions.

I now spend some time worshiping and praising my Lord as His peace floods my soul. I do not know the specific answers to my prayer requests, but that does not really matter, for I have the peace of God in my heart. I have spent invaluable Together Time with my Lord. Praise Him! Now, as I go into today, God has given me precious food from His Word upon which my mind and heart can reflect when I will later be faced with the demands of the day.

So, let us constantly remember, the foremost and primary duty that to which each one of us must attend every morning is to “get our soul in a happy state before God.”

How wonderful to know that every day the Lord Jesus extends His very own personal invitation to you. Calling you by name, He graciously invites you to Come and Dine!

  Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good;
To them that find Thee, All in All.

We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And Thirst our souls from Thee to fill.


             —Bernard of Clairvaux
Chapter 7 Fruit or Fire ← Prior Section
Appendices Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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